Monday, January 24, 2011

How I Got My Kids To Eat Everything {6 Rules}

Liver, cow tongue, mushrooms, menudo, salsa, beans, escargot, sushi, quail eggs, salad, brussle sprouts, lamb, the list goes on and on. Nash (13) is older and more adventurous than  Chloe, his 8 year old sister, but they are both super eaters. It wasn't always so easy to get them to eat what I wanted them to.

This morning Dr. Oz called into one of our local radio stations for an interview. He said that what you eat while your pregnant will influence how your children eat once their out of the womb. Hmmm, I guess it makes sense. He mentioned that the food you eat makes their way to them via the amniotic fluid through the umbilicol cord. He was much clearer explaining it than I am. When I was pregnant with Nash I craved Rubio's Fish Tacos, and I ate a lot of Cheerios due to morning sickness. It seemed to be the only thing that stayed down. With Chloe I ate rolled taquitos with guacamole. I don't think any of that transmitted to what they wanted to eat later.

I think that taste buds evolve. I think that babies and children's taste buds are more sensitive. Of course Nash lived off of quesadillas and dino chicken for what seemed like forever. And Chloe is still perfectly content with a big bowl of plain noodles.

I eventually learned a few rules that helped them transition into more adventurous eaters. I would definitely try to avoid introducing nutritionless foods and bad habits in the first place, but in my case I was young mother who had no idea what she was doing and no Internet, and no one to ask for advice! So, later I had some serious undoing to do.

6 Rules To Get Your Kids To Eat Better
1. They must try everything. They must try it every time it is served. Sources say that you must introduce a food many times before they will be willing, like 20! Of course, if they are gagging maybe pass. You don't want to traumatize them. And some things they will never like. But you can't serve them broccoli 3 times and then give up on them. And don't overly season things. Maybe trying serving veggies with cheese sauce or dressing at first.
2. If they are hungry they will eat. Hmm, your child doesn't want to eat his dinner? How about skipping the afternoon snack, glass of juice, and cup of milk before dinner. Maybe move dinner a little earlier so the little guy or gal doesn't have a meltdown.
3. Never serve milk with dinner. Have you ever sucked down an entire glass of milk before dinner? If your trying to eat smaller portions try it. You'll be full before you even pick up your fork. Same goes with little Johnny. Serve water with dinner.
4. Eat the number of bites that you are years. So if little Sally is 2, she needs to take 2 bites of broccoli, 2 bites of fish, and 2 bites of salad, before she can be excused, or before she can eat all of her mac and cheese that she loves so much. When she turns 3, she moves up to 3 bites. At 10, she'll eat, you guessed it, 10 bites.
5. Skip most casseroles and salad dressings. Every kid I ever met has issues with casseroles unless it's the above stated mac and cheese. For whatever reason, kids seem to like their food separated. They don't like dressing on salad either. The only dressing most kids like is ranch, in my experience.
6. Let them have a say. Now, in my opinion it's never been a good idea to say something like, "What do you want for dinner tonight?" Or, "What do you want to do today?" Ask that and you may get answers like, ice cream and Disneyland. However, you can still give them choices which will help them feel like they are a part of the process. Do you want super vision carrots or giant muscles spinach with dinner? And for goodness sake, don't ask them if they want salad, just serve it to them! You're the boss, remember?

Now implementing these rules won't change your child's eating habits overnight. These things take time. It took years before my kids willingly opened themselves up to trying new foods. Now it's exciting for them. When we went to San Fransisco this  last fall, we took the kids to a fancy restaurant. Nash had been dying to try Escargot, so I ordered him an appetizer plate. He and Chloe ate the whole thing while me and hubby sat and watched horrified! Anyway, you're not a short order cook. You do enough, you shouldn't have to cook separate meals. Strong Statement Alert: If you have picky eaters, it's because you've allowed it. Even still Chloe complains about eating her veggies, but she always does, with the exception of onions. I don't force her to eat those. Nash still doesn't eat tomatoes. And that's okay, I don't expect them to like everything, that's unrealistic.

Please forgive me if I have offended anyone. These are solely my opinions and ideas. I'm NOT a physician or psychologist, I'm just a mom. These rules worked for my kids and I think they can work for you. It won't be easy, you must dilligent. And if not...there's still hope. How many adults do you know who only eat chicken nuggets and applesauce? I'm willing to bet, NONE.

Need recipe ideas and meal plans. Buy Saving Dinner. It taught me everything I needed to know about serving healthy dinners. I actually prefer the recipes in Saving Dinner The Low-Carb Way.
Do you have any good tips to
share to get kids to eat better?


Plants seeds of knowledge...for our future! said...

WTG! People need to know! I owned a homechildcare center and had 4 kids that would not eat anything that did not come out of a happy meal box or pop tart box!

Megan said...

Good advice! I don't have any kids yet, but it's nice to store up this information for the future!

Sue said...

I was the pickiest eater as a child, but then again, in retrospect, my mom wasn't a very good cook. I always had to sit there(however long) until I ate a portion and it would make me gag. (I suppose that's why I was a little too easy on my kids.) When I went away to college I finally learned to love vegies and everything else(almost)!
Sounds like your methods were successful with your children! :)

cakeologist said...

I make my kids try something before they say they don't like it. 9 times out of 10 - they like it. Casseroles actually work for me because I can hide all sorts of healthy things in them and my kids don't mind mixed up food. Love the bites in years idea - going to try that next time they do act picky. I wonder if me not being a picky eater and always willing to try anything at least once has helped my kids not be too picky.